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A problem I am asked for advice on regularly is how to stop my dog’s urine (or the neighbors’ dogs’ urine!) from killing my grass.

If you want to learn why this is happening read on. All dog’s urine contains urea, a form of ammonia which converts to nitrates. Concentrated nitrates burn plants. It’s as simple as that! The level of urea will vary, with the first morning pee having the highest concentration. Urea can actually be good for your lawn if used in low doses; in fact, it’s a component of many fertilizers.

If you pay attention, you will see that the area immediately around a dead spot in your grass will actually be dark green and growing well. You would see a similar result if you poured a cup of fertilizer in one spot on your grass. The spot where you poured that fertilizer would probably die, but the surrounding areas would turn dark green. So you see, the problem is not necessarily the pee, it’s the concentration of the urea in the animals’ pee.

Here is the easiest short term fix: Immediately dilute the pee.

How? Well, I suggest you keep a watering can at the ready, in the area where your dog usually goes. As soon as she is done doing her thing, sprinkle a little water there and…presto! Dilution complete! That should take care of the problem. See how easy that was? (Great Gardens Simplified)

I’ve heard the suggestion that you can add things like tomato juice to your dog’s diet, but that seems silly and probably won’t work. It’s not an acidity issue like some say. Not to mention the fact that a dog with an upset stomach in the house is a worse problem than a dead spot on the lawn, if you know what I mean!

Another good suggestion is to train your pet to go only in one location. A good idea if you can do it, makes it easier to use the watering can in only one spot too.

I’ve also heard that Petsmart carries some supplement that you add to your dog’s food, but I don’t have any personal experience with it, and in general I’m against adding anything unnecessary to my pet’s diet.

Another good idea is to keep your pup hydrated. Make sure your pet always has fresh water available. This will help dilute the level of urea in your pup’s urine naturally, and may be a sufficient solution in some cases without the need for a watering can.

So how do you fix existing dead spots in your grass that your dog has already killed? Repairing and patching is simple. Just scratch the dead lawn away, sprinkle a good portion of grass seed on the spot, cover it thinly with peat moss or some other organic mulch, and water it. In a few weeks the spot should begin to fade as the grass fills in. Make sure to try to match the grass seed with whatever type of turf you already have.

If you are planting a new lawn, I am told that perennial ryegrass and fescue are a little more tolerant of high urea levels, and they make a great looking lawn when blended together.

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